The Phase 3D Spacecraft


P3D - What's In It For Me?

by Andrew A. Skattebo KA0SNL

Get Started Now

Page 3 of 3

OK, your interest is piqued and the satellite launch is still months away. What do you do in the meantime? Here are some helpful hints to get you started on your road to satellite (and maybe other weak signal) operation.

My first suggestion for anyone interested in satellite operation is to become a member of AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation. AMSAT is a non-profit organization formed to encourage participation in space research and communication. Membership dues and donations help fund satellite development and construction. Satellites such as P3D would not be possible without the support of AMSAT members and volunteers. In addition to helping fund satellite activities your membership dues provide you with a subscription to the AMSAT Journal which carries informative articles of interest to satellite enthusiasts and the latest news in the field of amateur satellites.

Second, you might start looking into your equipment options. I'm not suggesting you shell out good money on a full set of equipment when the new satellite has yet to be launched and checked out. Rather I would suggest taking a look at the building blocks and focusing your energy and money there. You see, a 2m or HF all-mode radio can become the heart of a satellite (or weak signal) station. If your in the market for a new or used 2m radio consider purchase of an all-mode versus an FM only model. The price new might be a couple hundred dollars more for the all-mode but its versatility opens up many exciting opportunities! Also, I've seen many multi-mode radios available used for the same price as a new FM rig so that would be another option to help a tight budget.


Next, start learning. AMSAT has materials and books available for beginners concerning satellite operation. (A book on P3D is available now to help you plan for P3D). CQ has an excellent videotape entitled "Getting Started in Amateur Satellites". While the material is not specific to P3D it is one of my favorites. Also, the ARRL has several books on satellite operation and microwave techniques that will help get you up to speed. The AMSAT home page is a great place to find information.

I hope you've enjoyed your peek into the future of amateur satellite operation but please don't forget there are plenty of satellites up and running right now. With a little effort you could be operating the hamsats long before P3D is launched. If you would like to get in touch with someone in your area who is already active on the satellites and maybe get a demonstration, get in touch with AMSAT. They maintain a list of "Area Coordinators" willing to give newcomers a hand.



The CQ video is available from CQ Communications and other ham radio dealers.


850 Sligo Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
PH 301-589-6062

Transverters are carried by:

Down East Microwave Inc.
954 Rt. 519
Frenchtown, NJ 08825
PH 908-996-3584

SSB Electronic USA
124 Cherrywood Dr.
Mountaintop, PA 18707
PH 717-868-5643

Satellite books and equipment available from:

R. Myers Communications
PO Box 17108
Fountain Hills, AZ 85269-7108
PH 602-837-6492



All views expressed in this article are my own and do not reflect any official positions on the part of AMAST. I hope you enjoy the info and find it useful. I will try to update the article as new information becomes available. Look for a follow-up article on setting up a station for P3D coming this fall. Your feedback is welcome.

73, - Andrew Skattebo KA0SNL


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Portions of this article originally appeared in CQ VHF Magazine, October 1996

Contents © 1997 Andrew A. Skattebo

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